Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Leaving on Vacation

I have so much to say and had so many good intentions of bringing this blog up to date before I took my vacation but...it's midnight. The day has been filled with visitors coming to pray for me as I leave and many text messages from people wishing me a good vacation.
So I'm leaving tomorrow morning at 6am to board a bus headed for Uganda. I will spend some time in Uganda and then head over to Kenya. I will meet my parents in Kenya and visit the Indian Ocean and go on a safari. Then I will bring them back here with me to Buja. I'm sure by then I will have so many stories and pictures to share with you.
Summer semester finished well and I'm all excited about my class schedule for Fall. I will be teaching intro to Special Education and first year sign language, it's the first time sign language has been taught here at HAU!!! Along with my other responsibilities I will be a very busy girl.
Please keep my travels in your prayers as I travel through countries, who the US embassy says are dangerous, but then again that's what they say about Buja. ;)
Please pray also that God will use this time for me to be used by and refreshed by him.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bible Group

I forgot to tell you that I spoke/preached at Bible Group, a student lead Bible study/chapel time on campus. During the school year about 200 students attend. During the summer it is much smaller.
I was asked to preach for the next week. I said yes. It took me a long time to come up with a topic. I finally came up with "where is home and who is your family", but I knew that wasn't what I was going to share.
The morning of God woke me up at 5 o'clock in the morning. He told me to remember. I read in my Bible, where I happened to be reading. It's amazing how the Lord uses the things were we are at to teach us. He had me remember about his faithfulness to me. I had my topic "Remember".
He gave me a wonderful opportunity to share about my life, about where he has brought me. The faithfulness he has shown me. I believe that preaching that day was more of a blessing for me than for the ones who were listening.


In Burundian culture the dote (dowry party) is very important. This was my first dote to go to. The bride to be is a student at Hope and works at Sister Connection. I have gotten to know her through Stephanie because of Stephanie's work at Sister Connection.
It was fun watching the exchange of words from the father of the groom to be and father of the bride to be. It was all in Kirundi but parts here and there were translated for me to get the main point.
It was a fun night for sure!!!


Nothing like a concert to bring people together.
I went to the concert with two people in the van plus me.
The concert was great. Sitting between two friends I watched some amazing musicians. It was an amazing night.
As the three of us made our way to the van I looked behind me, noticing that someone was following me. I was mistaken it wasn't someone, it was a whole herd of people. They were students from Hope. They must have seen me and guessed that I was driving the school's mini van. As I unlocked the door I said, in my best soccer mom voice, "everybody pile in". I didn't get photos of the concert but my co pilot wanted to capture the crazy group of happy concert goers.

Papaya Leaf Tea

Papaya Leaf Tea is a form of malaria suppressant or cure or something like that. I'm not really sure but it's what I drink to keep the malaria away.
My friends, the students, see me picking the leaves off the tree and carrying them back to my apartment. One stopped me and asked what I was doing with it. I explained and he looked confused.
Not two days later he came to me saying that he thought he had malaria and would like to try some tea. I gave him some, he didn't look good. He drank it and went to bed. The next morning I saw him and he said he felt 100% better.
Some friends came to visit the next day and it was my day to drink some of the tea. I made some for everyone to try.
It is the most bitter tasting drink I've ever had in my life!!! They agreed. But the benefit out weighs the taste I'm sure.

I'm alive

So I got a phone call from my mom. Imagine my cell phone rings and I look down and it says "Private call". I answer it and it's my mom!!! Super exciting. I look at the students around me and I say, "It's my mom, in America." They seem almost as excited as I am!
Mom asked me if I was dead.
No mom I'm not dead it's the internet that's been dead.
Sorry for those of you that have tried to follow my blog when I haven't posted anything.
But I'm alive!!! And midterms are over so life isn't as crazy anymore. It's so funny to me that students don't think that midterms are busy for me. I have to remind them that I have to write the exam and have to grade them. They look at me with blank faces and then say, "oh".
Now I'm planning my trip to Kenya to pick up my parents and bring them to my home. I can't wait!!!

God Provides, even in the small things

Last week I wanted to have some friends over to my apartment for a pancake feast. Though I was running low on syrup.
I've been told that making syrup is easy but I disagree. I tried it once and failed miserably. So a month ago when a friend
was coming from Kenya I had her bring some. That bottle is almost out, but I felt that I was supposed to have a pancake
feast with these friends of mine. I put it out of my mind, I didn't have enough syrup. The last few days the thought keeps
coming back into my mind, eat pancakes with your friends. I'm not sure why but it does. So this morning I was brainstorming
all the possible toppings I could have on pancakes that isn't syrup. I came to the solution of making a mango or papaya
syrup to top the pancakes, even though I really don't like either. Today the answer. I picked up a package from my aunt and
uncle, and cousins. Inside was pancake syrup!!! From Fred Meyer's no less!!!
I will now be able to have a pancake feast without fear of lacking pancake syrup.
The pictures and hand written card was the ultimate gift! As I was putting the pictures up on the fridge I began to cry. I accept
tears as a part of my life here, those bitter tears that burn as they fill my eye. I can't help it as they stream down my face. I love
it here so much but that doesn't change the fact that I miss my family. As wonderful as my friends here are I know that I will
continue to weep for the lack of family, for those who I love very much and are far away.
Blessings also came in the box. These are things that I could buy here but haven't. Sometimes it's nice not to have to shop for
the things you need.
The last few days I have also been craving honey, inside was a giant bear of honey.
I am almost out of salt, now I don't have to buy any. I now have enough for the rest of my time here.
I was talking to my friends and they were explaining that they want to learn how to bake. Corn bread is at the top of their list of
things to learn. Something about me inviting them over when the bread is in the oven, me forcing them to try this crazy American
food, drink Burundian tea, and spend wonderful time talking and getting to know each other. They say I'm sneaky luring them with
tasty food :) Last night they commented that they wanted to learn how to make cookies. I explained that the chocolate chips
Wouldn't arrive until August when my parents arrive. Today Chocolate chips filled the package!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Friends and Home

I think the hardest thing about feeling at home here is that it makes me miss home there.
This weekend was wonderful. I couldn't ask for better. I had a visit from a good friend. It was nothing special. I was working on writing the midterm exam and my friend was sitting and doing other things. We didn't have an agenda, just hanging out. It was comfortable.
Sunday I went to church with a different friend. I sat in the foreign language section. The church translates the service into English and French. I got to wear a set of pretty snazzy head phones and hold a receiver. (I was pretty stylin') The service was in Kirundi and Ki Swahili, I was wearing headphones, and sitting amongst strangers, but I felt like I was with family. It was so nice. There was a woman sitting in front of me. She was so friendly. I found out that she was from Canada. She asked me how long I was here for. I told her one year. She said, "That's how long I was here for 12 years ago. Careful." I laughed. She told me about a bible study that she attends. I'm very excited about the possibility of a mentor in her.
After the service my friend and I walked to his house. There is nothing like a long Sunday walk to make me feel at home. I met his family and shared some rice and beans, the little fish staring up at me from the plate I didn't eat. After he escorted me to the US Marine's house for a 4th of July party. Because of security only US citizens were allowed to go. I arrived late but the potluck was still out. I was back in America for a moment looking at all the random dishes, think church picnic where everyone brings something that is a little weird. The roasted pig was good though :) and someone brought the most amazing brownies I've ever tasted!!! I made an apple pie, very American of me.
I met a couple who just had a baby. I joked about babysitting and the wife joked back but then said, "I'm totally serious." They live up the mountain, about a 30 min drive. They seem really cool. I'm hoping that we become friends. Another family, who I've met a few times, invited me over to play games sometime. They live across town. I'm going to call them this week. :)
Bob and Laurie drove me back to HAU. Bob said, "do we drop you at your apartment or are we going to our house." I told him that I would drop my things and then be right over. We watched a movie and ate popcorn that was so buttery. yum
This morning when I woke up tired and sad. I didn't want to wake up. When this happens in the states I just call my dad, who is at work, and he wakes me up and cheers me up. I reached for my phone, then I remembered. Tears filled my eyes. I couldn't call my dad. I thought of a friend here to call but figured that he would still be sleeping.
The weekend was so great. Working, hanging out with friends and making new ones. I went to sleep in comfort and woke up wishing for that comfort to continue, wishing to see or at least talk to the family I love so much.
I went to class to give the midterm. We didn't have a classroom so I waited for my students to find a class. Standing in the middle of the HAU campus I was not alone for more that 60 seconds at a time. It was different friends of mine on their way to class or getting ready for the day. Each of them taking time to greet me, to ask me how I was and wish me a good day.
Yes I miss my family but having friends that care help me keep going, help ease the sorrow.

Daddy Happy Birthday. I love you lots and lots.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Burundi Independence Day

What is a girl supposed to do on Independence Day? Celebrate her independence and leave the walls of campus! I haven't had ice cream in at least a month so that was my mission. Little did I know that I was in for a day of adventure!
Karen from Spring Arbor just arrived and so I invited her to join me on this ice cream quest. I invited some of my friends to go with as well.
After convincing them to get into the van, with a crazy American behind the wheel, we were off.

We drove to the other side of town, after dropping off one friend. The best ice cream in town was our goal. They were closed. Don't worry I had a back up. We drove almost all the way back to the school. The second one was closed as well. It was now up to the students to direct, Boaz took the lead. On our way down a back street the students pointed out where a friend lived. We called him up and two minutes later he had joined the adventure.
As my dad always says, third time's a charm.
It was funny to watch these Burundians eat ice cream cones. They were trying to be so proper but they didn't have the right technique; melted ice cream dripped down the cones and all over their hands. I gave a quick lesson on eating an ice cream cone. I reassured them that eating a cone is survival of the fittest in the states because if a child isn't fast enough a dad will eat half their cone in the name of "helping".
I was having too much fun eating my cone I forgot to take photos. Here is one of us with happy taste buds.

We couldn't stop there. The adventure had just begun. We decided to go to the lake. On our way we came to a large round about. The boys joked about going around it 3 times. Not something to joke about. I did it.

We didn't stop at the lake, we just kept driving. We were rocking out to the radio. Hope Africa University's station. We called in and requested a song. All of our names were said on the radio!
We finally made it to the Ruzizi River. We parked and walked to the bridge.

After about an hour and half of enjoyment we left our independence day adventure and drove back to the HAU.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I have to stop grading papers for a moment to share this funny thing with you.
My students read American textbooks for their research. It's funny when they use special education laws within their papers because there isn't any special ed law here in Burundi. My favorite is when they take some law and translate it into their own understanding of it.
The best one is the NCLB law (No child left behind). Speaking of NCLB in education circles in the states is like bringing up politics at a nice dinner party, a heated discussion that no one wants to be part of follows. But from my students they understand the law in terms of what it literally means, no child left behind. This is their banner that they wave in most of their papers.
Direct quote from my student:
"They (special ed teachers) are engaged in term of helping their children in order to reach a good education by (students with special needs) becoming autonomy and self-determination because no child is supposed to be left behind."
I think that they grasp onto this phrase because children with disabilities here are exactly that, left behind. They are locked into their homes, sent to the market to beg for money, or just left.
This hope of every child being able to access education is driving my student's lives. So no child left behind is their banner.